Articles Posted in Gravity Knives

Published on:

A federal appeals Court has held upheld – for now – a criminal statute which makes it illegal to possess a gravity knife in New York.

As former prosecutors who specialize in criminal defense, our attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone have a great deal of experience assisting people who find themselves in the unfortunate position of being charged with weapons possession, in particular what are commonly referred to as ‘gravity knives.’ Indeed, many of our clients lawfully purchase these knives from such on-line marketplaces as Amazon.com or in popular brick-and-mortar stores like K-Mart. Completely unaware that the possession of such knives is illegal in New York, these clients openly carry the knives on their belts, or clipped to their pockets, only to find themselves in handcuffs and  going to criminal court charged with the Class “A” misdemeanor of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail).

So what exactly is a gravity knife? A “Gravity knife” is defined under New York Penal Law 265.01(5) as “any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application or centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.” In practical terms, any knife which a police officer can open with the flick of a wrist and which locks into place falls under this definition. Not surprisingly, police officers are particularly adept at opening and locking the knives into place.

Published on:

New York City owes much of its energy and excellence to the foreign citizens living and working here. Unfortunately, a visa or green card holder's right to remain in the United States can be seriously jeopardized by a Desk Appearance Ticket, even when the charges are comparatively minor misdemeanors. Many visa holders fail to take these arrests sufficiently seriously because the charges seem minor (like marijuana or subway fare theft) or because the arresting officer tells them "it's no big deal." Truthfully, though, career, educational, and family plans can be completely devastated by even a minor case of walking through the subway gate without paying, so it is absolutely critical that a foreign person arrested and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket retain competent counsel immediately.

In many ways, a Desk Appearance Ticket does not feel like such a big deal. The arrested person is usually handcuffed and taken to a police station where they are fingerprinted. They typically wait a few hours in a holding cell until they are given a piece of paper telling them the date and location of their appearance in court. Before Desk Appearance Tickets became routine, criminal defendants could expect to get "sent downtown" and spend the night in jail before seeing a judge. Obviously, Desk Appearance Tickets are preferable for criminal defendants because they spend less time in custody and also have the opportunity to choose counsel for themselves prior to going to court.

Make no mistake, however: the issuance of a Desk Appearance Ticket is in fact an arrest – it is not "just a ticket". More importantly for visa holders, this event is not going to "fly under the radar" with the immigration agencies. If you were arrested and given a Desk Appearance Ticket, your fingerprints and the arrest charges have been sent to a New York state agency (the Division of Criminal Justice Services) and to the FBI, which maintains a federal nationwide law enforcement database of all arrest events across the United States (the Interstate Identification Index). Visa and green card holders should understand that the immigration agencies, in processing visa renewal requests, access this database to investigate whether the visa applicant has an arrest record. Indeed, some visa holders actually receive emails from Department of Homeland Security (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) agents after their arrests, because the agency was notified of the arrest via the fingerprint database.

Published on:

One of the most common criminal charges in the federal system is a violation of 18 USC 922(g). This chapter makes it illegal for certain persons to possess firearms. Notably, this charge in this subsection does not depend upon the type of firearm possessed, though that factor can affect the potential penalties for the offender.

The statute states the following:

(g) It shall be unlawful for any person-
(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) who is a fugitive from justice;
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(4) who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien-
(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
(B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(26)));
(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
(8) who is subject to a court order that-
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
(C)
(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

Published on:

Federal law makes it a serious crime for certain prohibited persons to possess or sell firearms. Under federal law, one can also expect to receive a very serious sentence for possessing certain types of illegal firearms or using a firearm in furtherance of some other crime, such as robbery or drug trafficking. Below is a brief summary of some of the relevant statutes.

I. POSSESSION OF A FIREARM OR AMMUNITION BY A PROHIBITED PERSON

18 USC § 922(g) & (n). Punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. May receive minimum sentence of 15 years without parole if offender has three or more prior convictions for a felony crime of violence (e.g. burglary, robbery, assault, possession of offensive weapons) and/or drug trafficking felony.

Published on:

Imagine the following scenario: You get into the back seat of a car with three of your friends – Alex is driving, Brian is in the front passenger seat, Chris is in the back seat behind the driver, and you're sitting next to Chris behind Brian. The four of you drive off and Alex takes a left turn without signaling. Unfortunately, an unmarked (undercover) police vehicle is parked on the opposite corner and observes the traffic infraction. The police car activates its front grill lights and begins to follow the vehicle, ordering it to pull over. Brian pulls a silver semi-automatic handgun from his waistband, turns around and tosses it at your feet, urging you to kick it under his seat and out of view. You're shocked – you no idea there was a gun in the car…in a panic, you kick the gun forward and out of sight.

The plain clothes police officers approach the car and ask everyone to step out. One of the officers flashes a light into the interior of the car and sees the reflection of a silver object under the front passenger seat. Without asking a question, he reaches under the seat and retrieves a silver handgun, which he determines to be loaded

Question: How do the police officers determine who to arrest? The answer is easy – they arrest everyone. Alex, Brian, Chris, and you are all jointly charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree in violation of Penal Law 265.03(1)(b), which is a class "C" felony, and which carries a maximum of 15 years in jail.

Published on:

Have you been arrested for bringing a gun to a New York City Airport?

There is an age-old principle of law which says that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it (ignorantia juris non exusat); if it were, one could claim a defense to every crime on the grounds that he/she was unaware such conduct was illegal. While the general policy implications of the doctrine are obvious, there is one particular area of the law where this doctrine seems to have an extremely harsh impact on individuals and their families, and that is in cases where people with out-of-state permits to possess firearms pass through either one of New York City's two major airports with properly-secured guns, completely unaware that they are committing what is classified as a "violent felony" here. What's worse is that their conduct is perfectly legal in their home states and they have no idea that New York does not recognize their out of state gun permits. The result is that travelers literally hand over their weapons to the authorities thinking that what they are doing is perfectly legal and proper, only to find out that the are being arrested and charged with a serious crime.

Many people enter New York City with guns which are legal to possess in their home states. In fact, many of these people have properly obtained permits to possess their guns back home and are simply unaware that those permits do not bestow the right to possess those guns here in New York City. All too often, unsuspecting travelers will walk into either La Guardia or JFK International airport with their firearms under the mistaken belief that the permit or license they properly obtained in their home state is applicable here. The traveler has no idea that he or she is violating New York law by possessing the firearm until he/she is arrested after properly securing the firearm in the appropriate travel case and declaring it at the airport. In other situations, the passenger secures and checks the gun in their home state where they are duly licensed, in compliance with Federal Law and airline regulations, and no one in the departing state stops them from travelling to New York City! It isn't until that person arrives in New York and finds themselves in handcuffs and shipped off to central booking then criminal court, where it can take 24 hours in custody before they get to see a Judge and hopefully the light of day if they are released. The result is both shocking and terrifying to the person who never saw any of this coming…

Published on:

The arrest of a friend or loved one often happens unexpectedly. The majority of New Yorkers do not have any experience with the criminal justice system and are often thrust into a position of having to deal with the possibility of bail being set. This post will explain a few factors that go into a judge’s decision as to whether to set bail, explain what steps should be taken immediately before the arrested person sees the judge, and finally, if bail is set, will explain the basic process.

First of all, the question may arise, “What is bail?” Bail is simply a condition set forth by the Court that the defendant must first comply with before he can be released from the custody of the New York City Department of Corrections. In most cases, that would be an amount of money designated by the judge in either cash or bond. The difference between these two methods of bail will be explained later.

It should be noted that in the case of many first-time offenders, no bail will be set at all. This is because the purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant returns to court to answer for the charges. Contrary to popular belief, bail is not supposed to be “preventative detention,” or a way to prevent people from committing future crimes. Thus, if a defendant is an otherwise law-abiding citizen, and the charge is not serious enough to warrant bail, a judge may simply release him or her on their own recognizance. This is sometimes called “ROR.” In other cases, however, a judge may determine that a certain amount of bail is appropriate even for a first time offender. The criteria that the judge will consider is set forth in the Criminal Procedure Law:

Published on:

Many juveniles in New York City are arrested every week and given a family court summons for a crime that would otherwise subject him or her to a permanent criminal record. A juvenile is “defined” in the Penal Law as a person under the age of sixteen years old. To be more precise, it is actually a defense to a criminal charge that the defendant was less than sixteen at the time the offense was allegedly committed. See Penal Law 30.00. Often times juveniles are arrested for such offenses as Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the Fifth Degree, Penal Law 221.10, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, Penal Law 221.05, Petit Larceny, Penal Law 155.25, Assault in the Third Degree, Penal Law 120.00, Criminal Mischief, Penal Law 145.00, and Making Graffiti, Penal Law 145.60. However, in other cases, the charges can be more serious, especially where a victim has been killed or seriously injured or a felony charge, such as a drug sale, are involved.

The Family Court process can be daunting for a family inexperienced in defending against allegations such as these, even in juvenile arrest matters. A young defendant and his or her family will most likely be interviewed by probation and if the charge warrants it, be brought before a judge where an adjudication of juvenile delinquency can be made either through an admission or, in some cases, after a fact-finding hearing. The Family Court Act requires the attendance of the juvenile respondent and his or her counsel to be present during such a hearing. It is for this reason, that it is important that your child’s rights are protected by a lawyer experienced in handling juvenile arrest cases. If an adjudication of juvenile delinquency is made, the Family Court Act requires a dispositional hearing to take place within 10 days of the adjudication (if the charge is a felony) or within 50 days of the adjudication (for all other cases). The possible outcomes of a dispositional hearing for a juvenile defendant are three: (i) a conditional discharge, which for all intents and purposes is an order from the court requiring the juvenile to stay out of trouble and comply with whatever other conditions the court deems necessary to correct the behavior, (ii) probation, which would imply reporting to a probation officer for a set period of time, or, in extreme cases (iii) placement in a juvenile detention facility. The court’s decision will be the result of a balancing of the needs of the juvenile against the need to protect the community.

Simply put, should a loved one or family member of yours require assistance in sorting out a family court or adult criminal matter, you should call Galluzzo & Arnone LLP.

Published on:

The legal prohibition of gravity knives is one of the most vexing crimes in New York state law. First, many people get arrested for this crime without having any idea that their knife is illegal, and this is very understandable given that “gravity knives” were for so long so readily available throughout New York state at Army/Navy stores, Wal-Mart, and even Home Depot. (For more information on knives and New York retailers, see here). Second, there is serious disagreement about what is and is not a true gravity knife, and the answer is not always so clear in a courtroom. Indeed, we find that prosecution for this crime can differ wildly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Nevertheless, our extensive experience with these types of arrests allows us to fairly summarize the risks involved in carrying certain types of weapons, and also describe what NYC police officers consider to be a knife worthy of an arrest.

Under Penal Law Section 265.01, it is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail to knowingly possess a gravity knife. The stakes for these cases are even higher for people who have criminal records. Indeed, anyone with a criminal record – even just a previous conviction for a misdemeanor – is subject to possible indictment for the Class D felony of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (Penal Law Section 265.02[1]) for merely possessing a gravity knife. The penalties for a conviction on this felony charge can include multiple years in state prison.

A gravity knife is defined by Penal Law Section 265.00[5] as “any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force which, when released, is locked into place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.”